As passionate as I have become about coffee, it’s tough to deal with the industry’s dark side. I’m against complaining without looking for solutions, which makes it even worse for complex problems. And if anything is complicated, is making coffee a sustainable and fair business.
That’s why I felt excited when I found out about Era of We. It seems like an intelligent way to improve the coffee industry by connecting stakeholders across the value chain. So, before we talk about the possible solutions, I might need to explain the problem better.
What’s wrong with the coffee industry?
I had spent a few years researching Specialty Coffee on my own before I started Bon Vivant Caffe. During this time, my standards to assess coffee quality have changed dramatically, particularly after taking several Specialty Coffee Association’s and Barista Hustle’s certifications.
However, I didn’t learn about the injustices that support the coffee industry at large while studying the intricacies of great coffee. It took me a while to learn about the history of coffee and its evolution as a product, a business, and its development to its current state of glory.
Arguably, we are living the best moment for coffee ever, which speaks for the terrible times that coffee producers have dealt until now. And many are still dealing with the risks and injustices of growing a precious product without earning enough money to live well.
It took me a while to realize that a few European countries made coffee one of the many commodities they sold for centuries by taking advantage of their privileges as colonial rulers. More recently, the power dynamics that transformed coffee into the most desired drink across the globe are still there, and they aren’t as subtle as we could imagine.
Coffee brands rarely make visible farmers, although the producers deal with most risks and struggle to earn enough money to live. Overall, big coffee roasters tend to make most of the profit, which isn’t strange in commodity markets, like coffee, minerals, and precious metals, among others.
Curiously, it took me so long to realize the sad imperfections behind my beloved cup of coffee, even though I grew and still live in a coffee-producing country.
As complex as this is, we can’ simply regulate and subsidize the entire industry to solve the problem. I know that for a fact because my country has suffered the consequences of strict prices regulations and heavy subsidies. It’s the case of the local coffee industry, which has slightly recovered in recent years after almost disappearing.
Many consumers resent the snobbery that has stained specialty coffee reputation for decades, while we are still challenging and improving the definition of coffee quality. So, if we want to improve the coffee industry, we have to make coffee high-quality standards understandable. Additionally, we need to communicate the importance of direct trade to enhance coffee producers’ income and living standards.
That’s why after learning that there was a platform connecting the dots, I wanted to check it out and take a part of it.
What is Era of We?
Putting it simply, Era of We is a platform that connects farmers, roasters, facilitators, and consumers. It combines a digital marketplace and a social network to enable direct relationships between all the stakeholders in the coffee industry.
To understand better how it works, I recommend exploring their site and joining the community. I’ve been lucky enough to publish several articles for their Coffee Lab, a place to find interesting information about coffee, recipes, and stories.
Who is Era of We for?
So far, the platform is young, but it already features several coffee producers and roasters. The way I see it, Era of We aims to facilitate relationships between all members of the global coffee community, including consumers, producers, roasters, and hospitality businesses and trainers.
Depending on your interest, you can join Era of We and start interacting with other members. I find it interesting because I look for ways to interact with farmers and roasters as a content creator. Additionally, as a consumer, I’m very picky, and it isn’t too straightforward to get meaningful relationships with other coffee enthusiasts.
Sure, some online communities on Facebook and Reddit can be very active. Still, they can get hostile sometimes, and many don’t accommodate more curated, targeted content as other people in the coffee business can provide.
In short, Era of We is for anyone exploring new and better ways to add and get value from the coffee industry.
Why do I like Era of We?
As a platform, Era of We looks complete and offers ways to communicate between members, like most online communities. Additionally, the marketplace is exciting, and although I haven’t bought coffee from it yet, I am looking forward to trying it when it’s available for other markets.
I like the principles that support the community and the marketplace because it’s a structured and clever way to advance a fairer and more transparent coffee industry for consumers and producers. Additionally, it makes good progress without compromising roasters and other businesses’ profit.
One of the most exciting features that I will be testing soon is the coffee subscription because I am assessing different programs from roasters around the world. Learning where does coffee come from is crucial to making it a more valuable and sustainable product. Additionally, we know that coffee can be part of a significant experience at a beautiful café or as part of a more mindful routine at home.
Era of We can’t solve all the problems of the coffee industry. Still, it offers a viable solution for many producers who can access the Internet and connect with roasters, consumers, and hospitality businesses to create valuable relationships.
I value it as a place to learn, interact, and build a more vital coffee industry by getting together all actors more conveniently and straightforwardly.
Please note: This article has been sponsored by Era of We, but all opinions are my own.